Objective Literature concerning long-term outcome of mild to moderate prematures is limited. This study determines health-related quality of life (HR-QoL) and prevalence of emotional and behavioural problems at pre-school age in children born at 32 to 36 weeks’ gestation.
Methods A descriptive cohort study of 362 children born at 32 to 36 weeks’ gestation. Patient characteristics and family social economic status (SES) were analyzed using medical files and a SES-query. Study tools were the TNO-AZL Preschool Quality of Life questionnaire (TAPQoL) and Childhood Behavioural Checklist (CBCL). Outcomes were compared to the general population.
Results Main characteristics (mean ± SD) of responders (n = 218, 60.2%) were: birth weight 2360±444 grams, gestation 34.7±1 weeks, hospital stay 12.5±10 days. No significant differences with non-responders. Most families are two-parent middle-class households with the majority of parents employed at educational level.
The 12-item TAPQoL showed significantly lower scores (p<0.05) in 4 items: stomach, skin, anxiety and communication. The score for behaviour was significantly higher compared to the general population. Although CBCL borderline and clinical scores for internalizing- (12%), externalizing- (8.8%) and total problems (7.9%) were within the validated range of the normal population, the study-population scored remarkably high on three sub items: emotional, somatic and attention problems.
Conclusion Pre-school children born at 32 to 36 weeks have an increased risk for lower HR-QoL scores. Although there is no overall increase in behavioural and emotional problems, this study shows an increase in the sub items concerning somatic complaints, emotions and attention.